There is a terrific piece on the Esquire website talking about how, during the last time the country was dealing with social unrest and high anxieties, one of the positives that came out of it was some terrific movies that reflected depression, disillusionment and some level of paranoia.
What's interesting about the piece is that two of the films mentioned are a pair of movies that I've watched recently - I saw them as sort of comfort films, but maybe they were tapping into some sort of inner angst and I wasn't even aware of it.
They're both thrillers - Three Days of the Condor and The Parallax View - and they are absolutely worth revisiting.
Three Days of the Condor, directed by the great Sydney Pollack, stars Robert Redford (just before he made All The President's Men, which also is a pretty good example of political paranoia filmmaking) as a low-level CIA analyst, Joe Turner, who returns from lunch one day to find the entire office murdered, and quickly discovers that he is neck-deep in a government conspiracy and only accidentally has been left alive. The supporting cast is great - Faye Dunaway, Cliff Robertson, Max von Sydow, and John Houseman. Condor, if you haven't seen it, is worth a screening - it'll leave you disquieted.
Though maybe not as disquieted as The Parallax View. Warren Beatty plays Joe Frady, a smalltime newspaper reporter who is on the scene when a presidential candidate is murdered atop the Seattle Space Needle. Then, he discovers that one by one, all the witnesses are dying, and Frady begins to investigate, eventually going undercover to infiltrate a secretive organization that he thinks may be behind the assassination. Once again, there's a great supporting cast - Hume Cronyn, William Daniels, Paula Prentiss, Kenneth Mars. And director Alan J. Pakula - who would next direct All The President's Men - bathes the entire movie in deep and abiding paranoia.
Perfect movies for the seventies. And maybe perfect for 2020.
Speaking of older movies … my eldest son, a huge movie buff, called the other night to tell me that he'd just seen The Natural for the first time, and loved it. I told him I liked it, but am less a fan of it than I am of Bull Durham and Field of Dreams, which in my book are tied for number one sports movie.
Well, he'd never seen Bull Durham either - clearly I was not a very good father - so he went and watched that, and loved it. The great thing was that it generated a discussion about best sports movies, which I suspect will be ongoing. (Hardly the first time I've had this discussion, and it is always worth reconsidering how they should be ordered, though I suspect that most of my top 10 will remain the same: after Bull Durham and Field of Dreams they will include Raging Bull, Tin Cup, North Dallas Forty, and Hoosiers.)
I have a couple of excellent red wines to recommend to you this week.
First up, the 2018 Rotation Red Blend from California, which is what I think of as a terrific pizza-hamburger wine - not expensive, versatile, and eminently drinkable.
The other is the 2015 Carlton Cellars Estate Pinot Noir, which is a wonderful example of a Willamette Valley pinot, balanced and distinctive, and from one of my favorite Oregon wineries.
That's it for this week. I'll see you Monday.
Have a great weekend … stay safe … be healthy.